The White Stripes – Wireless Festival, Hyde Park, 14 June 2007
In contrast to everything about the Kings of Leon gig review, I’m going to write a short, sweet and utterly positive review of the White Stripes, who I saw over a month ago. Seeing the White Stripes live (a long time ambition of mine) is perhaps why the Kings of Leon seemed so average.
The White Stripes were deserved headliners at Wireless as they captivated the crowd with their simple yet complex sound. It has been said many times before, but the immense sound they make with only Meg on drums, Jack on his pimped-up retro guitar (and occasionally on keyboard) and his hell-sent (as opposed to heaven-sent) vocals is just plain unbelievable unless you hear it for yourself. It makes me wonder what the point of rhythm guitarists, bassists, keyboardists and general band members is? Then I realise that not every musician is capable of the instrumental tricks of Jack White, and I am convinced this is because he has sold his soul to the devil for his blues-rock guitar and vocal prowess.
According to the band, they do not write a set list but just go with the moment (in constast to the rigidity of the Kings). It works damn well too, I couldn’t tell that it was all unplanned. They played a mix spanning their whole decade, with highlights for me being: “Icky Thump” in all it’s crazed glory; a “Blue Orchid”/”Denial Twist” medley with guitar instead of keyboard on the latter; “Jolene” (by Dolly Parton), which is one of the most spine-tingling covers I have ever heard; and “Death Letter” (by Son House) being the other. Somehow, the Whites manage to make other people’s songs entirely their own. The other cover version in their set is a real crowd pleaser, with the crowd singing along (without the need of Jack) to “I just don’t know what to do with myself” by Burt Bacharach.
The whole set was totally absorbing and electrifying and I didn’t want it to end, which is the litmus test for a quality gig. My only quibble was that the big screens showed the live footage in red, white and (I think) black only, so that people at the back wouldn’t really see the band properly. I really hope this was a one-off because I’m going to see them from towards the back at the O2 arena it would suck to not see them on screen. They are going to look like they are made of lego (see my photos above) on stage so I wanna see them on screen!
The White Stripes put on the best musical performance I have seen in a very long time because the music pulses through their veins, and then magically into ours. Some more interesting banter would have made us feel more loved as an audience, but now I’m just getting greedy. Roll on the Arena tour.
PS Anyone know who is supporting on their UK tour in Autumn?